What's it like?
Most visitors to New Zealand come to Rotorua – expect mud, expect Maori dances and expect the sulphurous odours that emanate from the hot bubbling geothermal mineral pools.
The landscape is strangely, unbelievably green with gushes of steam bursting from unmarked vents among the soft undulations of the mounds and hills of Rotorua. It is not only the natural surface landscape that dominates Rotorua with its lakes, mineral pools, spas and ancient forests, there is the ever present evidence of underground volcanic activity in the form of geothermal pools and geysers that erupt with superheatedwater that is siphoned off to fill the hot pools found all over the town. It is this imposing presence of such forces of nature, easily experienced, for example at Kakahi Falls, the largest hot waterfall in the southern hemisphere, that along with the strongly evident Maori culture in the area gives the region its reputation as a mystical place of healing.
With such easy access to natural sources of continuous hot water for cooking and bathing it is easy to understand why this place became a main area for Maori settlement. Today, Maori form half the 53,000 population of Rotorua and with their strong cultural traditions still intact they provide an introduction to Maori values and traditions through concert and ‘hangi’ evenings put on all around Rotorua and on nearby ‘marae’.
The splendid Bath House of Rotorua, built in 1908 and originally known as ‘The Great South Seas Spa’ provided one of New Zealand’s first tourism attractions where people came to ‘take the cure’.
‘On 22 November 1880, Judge F.D. Fenton met with 47 Maori leaders to discuss a proposal supporting the creation of a township. Contained within the agreement was a clause setting aside thermal springs "Hei oranga mo nga iwi katoa o te Ao" - for the benefit of the people of the world. This far-sighted and generous gift of 50 acres along the southern shores of Lake Rotorua demonstrated the goodwill of the original landowners. The area, formerly known as the Sanatorium Reserve, is today named Government Gardens.’
Things to do in Rotorua
While Rotorua is fast becoming recognized as "Nature's Spa of the South Pacific" it’s attractions for tourists today have expanded dramatically to take full advantage of all areas of the natural landscape that provide amazing adventure opportunities for all. Extreme thrill seekers who would relish the on-the-edge rafting experience offered by the Wairoa River and its wild rapids at ‘Mother’s Nightmare’ would also love the dizzying effects of Zorbing.
For more gentle adventures try out the Gondola, scenic flights, prime trout fishing and the arts and crafts scene, not forgetting the jet boat experience.
For more information, explore Rotorua online with Onzamap. Look out for our 'snippety i' symbols for more bite size information about Rotorua and its attractions.